Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Detached

My eating has been pretty lousy this week and I have been avoiding the scale and feeling rather detached. Actually, I think that is kind of the point of eating poorly, for me: to feel detached. I have stuff going on that is stressful and difficult, and it seems when I am eating regular, healthy, non-sugary/non-junky foods, I can focus better on life and issues. But then, when you're clear-headed and *present* you can't easily detach. You have to feel everything and it can get really painful at times. Do you know what I mean? I discovered this very clearly when I was on Medifast and getting down into the 180's-170's and it hit me very hard that without the distraction and diversion of *food*, I had to face everything. I had to feel it all. I had to think about the issues. I cried, I got angry, and then because I was clear-headed, I was able to take concrete steps to solve the problems. It was a huge breakthrough. But it has been a tough change to stick with consistently. When things gets hard, I am pretty solid to a point. When they start getting emotionally painful and exhausting, I still want to escape through food. Because just like when I weighed 278 pounds, a mouthful of sugar turns everything into sweetness, buries a lot of bitter and sour emotions, takes the sharpness away and makes me forget for awhile. Like a drug.

My drug used to be to get in the car, drive to the store, and fill my cart with Red Baron French bread pizzas, Ranch dressing, Coke, ice cream, Oreos, candy bars, potato chips, cheese, donuts, and hot dogs and come home and eat them all evening and all the next day so that there was a good solid 24-hour (or more) period where 90% of my time was pleasant and enjoyable. Of course, I was adept at ignoring things like heartburn, reflux, acne, joint pain, and a painfully stuffed stomach. Now, my drug seems to be similar type eating but on a much smaller scale: a slice of pizza, a diet Coke, a scoop of ice cream. Then the next day a sugar free coffee, a bowl of chips, a slice of cheese, a cookie. I get the same effect as I used to get, but on a shorter term... maybe 15 minutes of relief, not a whole day's worth. And now, I am unable to ignore the physical symptoms of fullness, sugar fog, and joint pain. I hate it but it is hard to give up completely. Like a drug.

The times I do this now are few and far between. I hate the way I feel, so I snap out of it a lot faster. I go for weeks or months before I eat another cookie or scoop of ice cream or bowl of chips. But I do remember a time when I was going much longer and thought I was 'done' with this behavior forever. So I jolt myself out of it, throw out any remaining junk, and go back to eating what makes me feel healthiest. And then, I am forced to feel the feelings and cope with whatever drove me to try and escape in the first place.

I wish I'd learned long ago how to cope with negative emotions and difficulties without 'substance abuse.' I use that term because I believe it is all the same illness, whether one uses alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription painkillers, marijuana, or food. It's all one thing in different varieties. It's been a lot of work finding healthy coping alternatives, but I am getting there. Most of the time I make better choices. Lately I've been leaning on increased exercise and activity to help me cope. When my PT was denied (and the appeal was also denied), I felt hopeless. Slowly, as each missed session went by, my pain level started creeping back up again. My mobility became limited again. And since I hurt, it was easier to sit and eat something to cut the stress than it was to go do some yard work. Not an excuse. Just the truth. It is easier to check out with food than it is to deal with pain, physical and emotional.

I didn't really feel like blogging and I am not sure whether I am going to continue much longer. I came to write because I think it helps me to type out my thoughts and feelings and sort out what is going on in my head, and decide what I really want to do about it. I am tired of stress, but I am also tired of feeling detached. And unless I go back to full-blown bingeing or stop this junk-abuse behavior altogether, I am stuck in the limbo of both.

17 comments:

Michelle Himes said...

It sounds like you aren't as detached as you think you are. It's good that you can analyze your feelings and pinpoint where the problems lay. Don't stop trying, and don't stop writing. If you need to, you can always make your blog private - that way you won't feel under any pressure or obligation to post unless you need to for your own purposes. Can you still do pool exercises on your own in the therapy pool?

Lyn said...

Michelle~

thanks. Yeah, I keep working at it. It's better than being detached completely, right?

Can't use the therapy pool without insurance (it is some outrageous amount, over $100/visit) and my therapist did not know of any public-use therapeutic pool or treadmill pool. I think the combo of the pool work, the massage, and the ultrasound therapy was helping a lot. I asked my therapist about using a cold/regular pool and just walking, but she said it would not be the same effect (not therapeutic due to temperature, and not helping with stride correction and pace because of no treadmill). Not sure what I will do about that.

screaming fatgirl said...

This is something I have experienced as well. You have to remember that this is not all "in your head", but very much in your body. The hypothalmic-pituatary-access is dysregulated in people who have had any sort of substance dependence (including food) and your reward systems in your brain are not normal. Also, the gut is tied directly into the brain in many ways. There is a reason for the saying, "food coma". If you overeat, you divert resources to your digestion and literally "numb" yourself. There are biological reasons for what you do. They have to be addressed along with the psychological ones. It's not just about "feelings" or tolerance of distress, though that is a part that you can actually work on.

Jeanette said...

I hope you continue to blog.. seems like a good place for you to sort out feelings!!

You have some real, involuntary suffering in your life.... and of course, that is going to make you feel a lot of things, and those feelings are going to suck.

Unfortunately, the only healthy way to deal with sucky feelings is to feel them. I'm dealing with the same issues... when I let go of my food obsession, the intensity of the feelings was overwhelming, I wanted to run to alcohol or shopping or SOMETHING. It's been a challenge to just sit with grief and anxiety and sadness.... recognize them and let them pass in their time.

TNTriathlete said...

"It is easier to check out with food than it is to deal with pain, physical and emotional."

The things that are worth it are rarely easy. To get in shape and stay there requires one to endure pain or at least discomfort. Which do you want? To give in and take the easy way or pursue improved health by putting in the work? There isn't a right answer, it's a personal choice only you can make.

Lyn said...

screaming fatgirl~

Agree. It is like a switch trips when I eat certain things. You are so right.

Jeanette~

thank you. I really enjoy your blog too even when I don't comment. You're right about the intensity. And I have done the shopping thing too! It's all about avoidance. I am going to have to sit with some really unpleasant feelings this week. Thanks for the encouragement.

LHA said...


This was a brave post. It isn't easy to admit to giving in to food obsession and to talk publicly about the stress in your life. When I struggle, and that is pretty often lately, all I can think is that I can NOT give up because I do want to be in better health for myself and my children. As I tell my therapist all the time..."But the food did help me feel better at the time" and it is true. (Thanks to screamingfatgirl for the technical explanation.) It is just the aftermath which is painful. I wish you clarity, peace and some relief from the stress in your life.

Steelers6 said...

Hi friend, sorry to hear your therapy was denied.
I hope your week goes really well. Did you get any time with your boys on spring break? Maybe they worked a lot.
Hugs to you!

JoJo said...

I am very sorry you are feeling this way. You have a loyal, loving following. Their comments are helpful and very supportive. Although I would miss hearing about you, I am wondering if taking your blog private (as suggested by Michelle), but keeping just a few of these people involved would be helpful. The comments on this post are so very helpful and could help you as you figure out a new path.

CatherineMarie said...

What about reframing? Have a slice of pizza, but a salad too? Your amounts are actually reasonable and similar to what a skinny person would eat (because, skinny people do have pizza, ice cream, potato chips). We are sensitized to think that ANY pizza etc will make us fat.

You are not binging with a single serving. It is called a meal. Reframing it as such will help stop the thought cycle that contributes. So instead of saying "oh I binged" "oh, I had pizza for dinner". Add fruit to the ice cream. Reframe it so it isn't a "binge" but an indulgence and a part of normal life. And I think you need to give yourself some rewards too. Non-food rewards, but rewards. I think you are putting yourself in a "deprivation mindset" in total, so can you at least maybe get a manicure or pedicure? Or even a new lipstick or something. Bath smelly stuff....

In terms of the pool, some of the "kiddie" pools are warmer than the adult pools. But are deep enough to do some stretching. Did the therapist give you any concrete suggestions as to what you could do to continue? There is a local pool place near me that has treadmill pools, but you have to really examine the site to figure that out.

Lastly, there are a couple of blogs I want you to go look at: Can You Stay For Dinner is one, BiteMyWords is another (written by a nutritionist, who has recently been posting what she eats), SummerTomato is another. These are all commonsense blogs about healthy eating and manageable weight loss.

LauraA said...

I am so sorry to hear that the PT was denied. How frustrating!

I hope that you continue to blog, because I always find it inspiring and feel like I take something away from each and every post. Of course ultimately it is about what you are getting out of the blogging experience and not anyone else, but I thought maybe it would help to know that there are people out there who look forward to reading your words and find them very helpful.

Michelle Himes said...

Okay, you can't use the therapy pool without insurance approval. Where did you go swimming before? The Y? My Y has a heated (not really "warm" but not cold) pool. I don't have PF or knee problems, but I have had serious hip pain, and sitting on a "noodle" and paddling, bicycling around the pool did wonders for the hip pain. It helped me at least as much, if not more, than the physical therapy. Lots of leg exercise without putting any pressure/weight on them. If you have access to a pool that's not freezing cold, this might be a good thing for you to try. Another thing I use when pain gets bad is the "Sit and Be Fit" dvd,

I also think your post was really brave, and a good insight into why we medicate with food.

16 blessings'mom said...

Lyn, do not give up. It is not an option. Sometimes we think we have to FEEL like doing something in order to do it. Perhaps just doing it anyway is the key. Even if you are just going through the motions, eating well will make you feel better. I do know it's easier said than done, it is my own daily battle. I can sometimes make it through a whole day eating cleanly, then all of the sudden there is stress and drama with all of my teenagers, and uh-oh, I have eaten ten handfuls of dark chocolate covered rasberries. Dang it. So I know it isn't easy. But don't give up!!!! Take life just one day at a time, one temptation at a time, you can do this!

Della

16 blessings'mom said...

And please don't stop blogging! Take a break if you need to...oh maybe I'm just being selfish, but I love reading your blog, I have always admired your perseverance.:)

Lyn said...

Thank you all. It was so nice today to get up and read all the kind comments and also some very supportive emails I got. I REALLY needed these and appreciate it. Sometimes I feel like I am just talking to myself on my blog, and it helps to know others care and relate and get something out of it, and want me to succeed.

Steelers6~

we haven't had our spring break yet, but the college breaks don't overlap with the district's so just my younger two may be going on a trip or something with me. Yeah, they are working a lot too and busy with their own grown up lives, but they check in for dinner and laundry on weekends :)

CatherineMarie~

the PT didn't have any pool ideas for me but just told me to keep biking and stretching, using the splints and the medication. And yes, nonfood rewards are a good plan. I am setting up a massage for myself next week. I figure it will be nice and maybe therapeutic, too.

Michelle Himes~

We don't have a Y with a pool here. I swim at a public pool over the summer and hope to do so again this year when it opens. Thanks for the compliment :)

I am doing well today, just trying to make healthier choices and keep the portions small.

Amy said...

We all check out of life with one vice or another, whether it's food or a smart phone. It's a coping technique and it sounds like you are getting better at coping without it well too. I read a book called "It's Not About Food" that helped me realize that these coping strategies are established early on in life, along with what we believe our self worth is. For me, guilt and shame are two big triggers. And they have been tied to how my mother made me feel as a child, then when she felt remorse she would try to smooth the situation by giving me a treat. Using food to cope is learned and can be unlearned but it takes a whole lot of practice and patience. I am nowhere near that place. Delighting your other senses can help, scent is reported to be a powerful help.
Lynn, do you have a United Cerebral Palsy center near you? If you have a medical necessity and a doctor verifies, you can use their facilities. The one in my city keeps their pool heated to 82 degrees, which helps people who deal with arthritis, diabetes and CP. Its worth checking into. I would miss your blog if you gave it up. You inspire us because you are real and human, not because you're perfect.

Lyn said...

Amy~

you're so right. My mother did the same thing. It is a learned behavior and it works short term... so hard to unlearn. I had never heard of United CP... what a great organization! Unfortunately the nearest one is over 3 hours away. Thank you for the ideas and the kind words.